In the Middle Ages, young men were apprenticed to a master to learn an art or a trade. In our culture we think of an apprenticeship as a time for learning knowledge and skills. But in the past, having an art or trade was part of one’s identity. “In the master/apprentice relationship, the master passes on a way of being in the world, a sacred outlook and a toolbox stocked with stories, habits and virtues intended to help the apprentice carry the master’s work forward.” (Dean, 2010, p. 150) The master stone-carver, for example, carved stone because he was a stone carver, that is, he was fulfilling the calling for which he was made. He passed on to his apprentice the dispositions, knowledge and skills needed to create something from the stone that reflected the apprentice’s own gifting. Imitating the master carver didn’t mean carving exact replicas of his own but trusting the learning he received to create something new.
Relationally teachers are to express their unity in Christ through their love for one another. There is also diversity where unique image-bearers work together as interconnected parts of Christ’s Body to bring glory to God. Schools are made up of teachers of different ages and levels of maturity, different levels of teaching experience and different gifts. Everyone can grow both personally and professionally as the Holy Spirit empowers each one to fulfil their God-given calling. The teaching team can flourish when each one has a commitment to serve the Lord using their gifts to build up their colleagues. Teachers model the shalom learning community when they collaborate in pairs, teams or groups, mentor one another, sharing their vision and a common task, their gifts and resources. This can build the capacity of each teacher, enhancing their initiative and creativity. It supports strengths and differences, allows for weaknesses and brings a richness to learning for students which is beyond the ability of the individual teacher. In this context, teachers are more readily able to critically reflect and evaluate each other’s contribution to a common task.
Donovan Graham reminds us in his book Teaching Redemptively that it “takes a community of like-minded people who are willing to both support and challenge one another in healthy, redemptive ways” (p. x) for the school to be a Christ-centred learning community where students can flourish. The questions that each one of us needs to consider are:
- How can I use my gifts to contribute to the personal and professional life of my colleague/s in my school?
- In what ways can my colleagues build into my life and teaching practice? How can I facilitate this?
Working together as brothers and sisters in Christ is God’s way of carrying out our mission.
May the Lord richly bless you as each one uses their God-given gifts to build up one another in your school so that together you may fulfil your calling to raise responsive disciples of Jesus who will be like their teachers.
From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
Grace and Peace
- Graham, D. (2007) Teaching Redemptively. Purposeful Design Publications
- Dean, K.C. (2010) Almost Christian. Oxford